For a half, Vanderbilt's offense was inept.
Even worse, for nearly 27 minutes, the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer, John Jenkins, was scoreless.
Jenkins and the rest of the 18th-ranked Commodores made up for their droughts quickly, though, as they rallied from 13 down in the second half and beat Georgia 64-56 on the road Wednesday night in Athens, Ga.
Vanderbilt won its fourth straight as it overcame a dreadful first-half in which it shot 21.6 percent (8-for-37) from the field. Jenkins didn’t score until he hit a 3-pointer with 13:15 left in the game. He finished with 21 points and sparked the Commodores, who ended the game on a 24-3 run and held Georgia (17-8, 6-5 SEC) without a basket from the field for the last 9:49.
“Their defense was so good, it was hard to do anything,” Jenkins said. “I got one good look and that gave me some confidence for the rest of the game.”
Jenkins, who came into the contest averaging 19.8 points, missed his first six shots, including three 3-pointers. He got going late, though, and made six of his last eight shots, including five 3-pointers – the last one tied the game at 55. He followed that with another basket to give Vanderbilt a two-point lead with 2:50 remaining. The Commodores never looked back after that.
“We knew at some point he was going to come in and get hot,” Georgia’s Dustin Ware, who had a team-high 12 points, said. “He’s a great shooter. You’re never going to shut him down completely.”
In addition, Vanderbilt (19-6, 7-4) attacked the boards, outrebounding Georgia 49-32 and scoring 18 second-chance points.
Though Jeffery Taylor (2-of-18 shooting for seven points) and Festus Ezeli (3-of-10 for 10 points) didn’t have the best offensive nights, they grabbed 13 and 12 rebounds, respectively. Ezeli also added a career-high seven blocks. The Commodores also got 11 points from freshman Rod Odom, who got the start over ailing Lance Goulbourne.
“A big focus this week was to finish road games,” Ezeli said. “That was a big part of practice. That is what we came to do and we did it.”
Vanderbilt snapped a two-game losing streak in Athens and are now 3-4 on the road, including a 2-3 mark in SEC games. The Commodores, who are now all alone in second place in the SEC East, hit the road again on Saturday when they play at Auburn.